The Overseas Economic Co-operation Fund (OECF)
Japan's OECF is providing the Republic of Bulgaria with a loan for the 'Port of Bourgas Expansion Project', amounting to 14,312 million yen (US$102 million). This latest loan brings the cumulative total of OECF loan commitments to Bulgaria to 27,180 million yen ($193 million) and will make a significant contribution to supporting the infrastructure improvement that is so essential for economic development.
The loan agreement was signed on 29 June 1998 at OECF's Head Office in Tokyo between Kyosuke Shinozawa, OECF's President and Chair of the Board, and HE Wilhelm Krauss, a minister at the Ministry of Transport of the Republic of Bulgaria.
The Port of Bourgas is Bulgaria's largest port and is located in the south-east of the country, adjacent to the Black Sea. The port mainly handles imports of crude oil, coal and ore and exports of iron and steel products. Severe economic difficulties after the fall of socialism led to a sharp decline in freight volume from 21.32 million tons in 1986 to 9.95 million tons by 1991. However, gradual increases have led to volume recovering to 15.61 million tons in 1996. Cargo has also increased; in 1996 cargo volume reached 7.1 million tons, surpassing the previous record in 1986 of 6.5 million tons. As freight and cargo volumes grow and larger sized ships increasingly dock at the port, its facilities are fast becoming inadequate. The port particularly lacks necessary water depth and sufficient yard area capacity.
The project is due to expand port facilities by constructing a specialised four berth terminal for bulk cargo, such as coal and ore. By doing so, the port will be able to meet the increasing volume of freight handling and be able to accommodate larger vessels of up to eight million dead weight tons.
The OECF was established in 1961 and is the core financial institution for Japan's Official Development Assistance (ODA) loans. It has been providing financial assistance to developing countries since 1966, principally by supplying low-interest, long-term loans to help fund efforts to build social and economic infrastructures.
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